Past Project: Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)

After the disputed presidential elections in December 2007, over 1,300 Kenyans were killed and 600,000 were forced to flee their homes. The town of Nakuru hosted many of these displaced people in a camp 10km outside of the town. In the months after the election, a huge humanitarian effort was made to resolve this issue and provide those who fled with food and shelter, primarily in the form of tents. However, by the end of 2010, many of the aid agencies withdrew their services when the contracted time for them to remain working with displaced people was over.

Even up to four years afterwards, and despite repeated promises by the government to resettle these people, thousands of Kenyans were still living in tented accommodation, many living in what have become known as IDP camps - with neither clean running water nor working toilets. These people were essentially refugees in their own country.

The camps themselves had no form of a local economy. Most of the people living in them were unemployed, so it was not possible to start small business within the camp as there was no one for them to sell to. Occasionally a local politician or business donated food as a one-off gesture, but there was no long-term planning in place.

Development Pamoja had been working with a group of people in one of these camps since 2008, before we even registered as an organisation. We initiated various income-generating activities such as renting land to plant maize and beans, purchased chickens for members of the group and started a rabbit-keeping project. Some of these projects were successful, others not so much. For example, in 2009 we rented an acre of land near the camp but due to a lack of rainfall and no nearby water source, the harvest failed. We also set up a rabbit-rearing project with this group, providing capital to build rabbit hutches and rabbits. Members of the group sold these rabbits to people outside the camp.

The health of many of those living in the camp was severely compromised by the poor living conditions. The incidences of airborne diseases such as TB were high due to living in such close proximity to others. Pneumonia was also quite common, due to the state of the tents people were living in; the camp could get very cold at night and when it rained the tents were flooded as the camp lacked adequate drainage. Because of this, we helped members of our projects with hospital expenses and we also taught those in the camp about primary health care.

In late 2011, the government relocated approximately half of the 500 families living in the camp to a new site 60km outside Nakuru. This new camp was in a very rural area with no running water, no toilets and poor access to health facilities and education. The move forced us to split our rabbit project between the existing and new camps.